Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reading to Momma -- posted by John

No matter if I'm 50 years old, I will always love Dick and Jane books. You need to know this: when you experience something in your childhood, it will always be an important memory. Dick and Jane and Sally were always fun and good. There is never any fighting like on TV in those books. They are a good boy and girl and baby. I wish they had more kids, but three is good enough.

I'll never stop reading them even though I have much more reading skills. Those books make me feel happy and clean. There's a lot of love in their home and they're always doing something fun like painting boats.

I read Toad and Frog to Momma today because I love reading to her. Sometimes she lies down on the sofa facing the back and I sit next to her head. She looks up at me like Puss-in-Boots. She laughs and smiles at all the right places and if I struggle with a word, she usually knows what it is.

Sometimes we sit across from each other and put our feet in each other's chair. Sometimes we get in the bed with each other and cuddle up close when we read to each other. Sometimes one of us sits on the floor with our back up against the sofa while the other one lies down on the sofa propped up on the arm with a cushion under their head. Sometimes one of us is on one end of the sofa and the other one is on the other end of the sofa propped up facing each other with our legs and feet tangled all up.

I hate when I have to leave her like when I have to clear the table, check the chickens, give another kid their turn, do math, yada, yada, yada.

If Mom and I could read to each other and sip tea and eat dried mangoes for the rest of my life, I would. And maybe we could watch movies and cook together, too.

I wish Mom and I were like the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Remember how the Captain walked around in that cottage by the sea thinking of his book and she wrote it? That would be fun!

Spencer got a weight set and bench for his birthday. I can lift the bar a whole inch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Legumes -- posted by Sarah Grace

As I have been studying nutrition and traditional ways of preparing meals, I've realized that the information I have learned is too interesting and healthful not to share. Therefore, I intend to periodically post tidbits of information and recipes we've tried.

Yesterday for lunch I made dosas, which are Indian pancakes, and they are made with soaked lentils and rice. I used the recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Unfortunately, in our busy-busy society, legumes are improperly made, making it uncomfortable for our bodies to digest. Consequently, this healthful and delicious food group is rarely eaten, and when it is, the partaker promptly reaches for the Beano or Gas-Ex.

To make legumes (beans, lentils, etc.) easily digestible, they have to be carefully prepared. Traditional cultures understand this. They soak the legumes for long periods, rinse them, and while they cook the foam is skimmed off. All of this preparation neutralizes the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. It also breaks down difficult to digest complex sugars.

The dosas tasted similar to latkes or hash browns, but with a pleasantly sour taste that comes from the lentils being soaked in water with lemon juice. We tried them with the yogurt sauce made with garlic and lemon, raw sauerkraut, ketchup, and also salsa. We each had our favorite. The sweetness of the salsa or ketchup nicely balanced the sourness, but if you like sour food, the yogurt sauce and raw sauerkraut are also quite delicious.

I'll be writing about various recipes using whole foods and raw foods. My two main sources are Nourishing Traditions and Sue Gregg Cookbooks. I've also been replacing whole foods in regular recipes with great success. I'm looking forward to sharing them with you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Everett McGill's Happy Little Tire Swing -- posted by John

Last night Spencer and Will took Sarah Grace to her class at USC. They told Mom that instead of studying at the library, they were going to throw the football back and forth and accidently throw it through a girls' dorm room window so they would have to go get it. Mom asked them what they would do once they got to the dorm room and they said they hadn't thought that far. We all laughed because that's funny because, in the first place, they would never do that, they were joking, and, in the second place, we don't date. None of us has ever had a girlfriend and Sarah Grace has never had a boyfriend. Not that we don't think about it.

In fact, lately I have been watching this kids' movie called "Sky High" that we tivo-ed and it has some cute and pretty girls in it. I've watched it over and over again to the point that my brothers tease me about watching it. It's not like I'm in love with any of the girls in the movie, but it does get me stirred up for love.

Sometimes I wonder if some girl might come to my journal and see me with my hair gelled back like Michael Corleone and swoon.

There is a cartoon called Kim Possible and I think Kim is very pretty and she has a great personality. Don't get me wrong-- I'm not in love with a cartoon. But I like the whole package of this character.

I had this secret in my vault because I was sure my brothers would never get off my back if they knew it. Finally, because I can't keep secrets from them, I told them what I thought of her and they weren't surprised that I was attracted to a cartoon. They were surprised that I was attracted to someone with a sarcastic personality. They said she's sassy. But she's not.

Mom said that before we go falling in love, she wants us boys to have the money to pay for the wedding because she doesn't like the American tradition of the bride's family paying for it. She said it would be noble and irresistible if we saved to pay for the wedding and gown and jewelry and wine. And we should be able to have at least enough money for a nice little house fixed up neat.

I want to make a nice wedding with swans and shooting fireworks and kids throwing confetti. And the best wedding music. And maybe I could bake a beautiful cake with my Mixmaster.

After the honeymoon I would take her to a newlywed cottage with a chimney, cook pots, crystal plates, a flower garden, a happy little tire swing like Everett McGill's and whatever else I could pay for. You know, I might need some help with all this from Dad.

But first I want to get braces to close this gap in my teeth.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

To The Mattresses, Part Due -- posted by Daddy

In my last post, I commented about the surprising amount that we can learn about patriarchy from a character such as Vito Corleone in The Godfather. In it, I lamented that "much of the problem with today's families is that we have so moved away from the family owned enterprise. With men mostly working for another company, the vast amount of time that a man has during the week is spent away from his family. This has been compounded by moms working outside the home, and multiplied by parents outsourcing their Biblical mandate to instruct their children to a government or privately run school system."

Most homeschooling families are well aware of all of the reasons for wanting to home educate their children. In this regard, our story is nothing out of the ordinary.

I am so thankful that years ago, when Will and Sarah Grace were in the 2nd and 1st grades, Mandy had the wisdom to want to homeschool our children. At the time, I really did not fully grasp what a life changing decision it was. We were very concerned about some of the negative influences to which the children were being exposed, long before they were prepared to deal with them. Some of these influences were subtle, some, not so subtle.

At the time, I did not at all understand my God-ordained role as patriarch of my family. (By the way, let me touch on something now. When I use the term patriarch, it is used with a Biblical connotation. It is used to describe the servant-leader of the family, one who lifts up his wife and children; to serve and not be served. It is to look to Jesus as the model, as He is the head of the Church, and laid His life down for her. That is why I said in my last post that there is no place for chauvinism or male superiority in the concept of Biblical patriarchy.)

If I had understood my God-given role, I would have been much more attuned to these unwholesome influences, and I would have been more protective of my children. But there I was, not bringing them up in the way they should go, but outsourcing the children's education. And even though we lived in a great neighborhood, and the kids were going to a highly rated school, we were shocked one day by an incredibly lewd song Will learned from a neighborhood classmate.

You see, one of the problems with this "great" neighborhood, was that so many of the families were dual income households. And so we had a lot of latch-key kids, with absentee parents, getting into things they had no business doing. And then these kids were bringing these unhealthy influences into my family. Shame on me. We were so careful about what the children read, watched, and listened to, and then left the door wide open for a kid at school.

The funny thing is that one of the original knocks on home-schooling would be something along the lines of "Well, what about your children's socialization?," as if kids' socialization in a school setting is something to which we should aspire! I came out of a public school environment; Mandy came out of both secular and Christian private school. We both know what the environment was like then, and that was over thirty years ago. Does any parent really think (when they're honest with themselves and not making excuses) that this is a healthy environment for their children? I mean, really...what are parents thinking when they send their children into a place where they have to go through a metal detector as they enter the building? Is this really where children should be?

We've even heard some church-goers defend sending their children to school saying that their children are there to be witnesses for Jesus. How pitiful is their understanding of the Bible. Sure, Christians are always to be witnesses. But the Bible teaches that the only ones sent out are men, and two by two at that. God does not send women and children into the world.

And so, yes, I am concerned about the children's socialization, and want to be as careful about this as I am about every other facet of their lives, and that's one of the reasons we have been home-educating our children, like so many others around the country.

Another aspect that led us to decide to teach the children at home had to do with some of the unholy garbage being taught in school. I have no doubt that there are many teachers in schools that are well meaning, and may even claim Christ. But so much of the curricula is worthless at best, and downright harmful at worst. In our case, we learned about how, in the name of multiculturalism, the school wasn't just teaching, but celebrating the Chinese New Year, and that the teacher had given Sarah Grace her horoscope. (How 'bout sticking to reading, writing, and arithmetic since most schools are failing at that!)

It was soon thereafter that we decided that we could do a better job not only educating the children, but also bringing them up right. As the patriarch of my family, God expects me to be intimately involved with each of my children, nurturing, protecting, and developing them physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

But what has been most amazing about our experience in home education, was not just the avoidance of the negatives, but rather the unforeseen blessings that we've seen. There are so many that I could talk about, but one of the greatest benefits has been the closeness that the family has enjoyed.

Not that there are never any disagreements or hurt feelings. But there is an affection within the family that's hard to describe. It's seen in the little things. For example, when most teenagers are all about themselves, Will takes care of Webb every day. Webb is developmentally delayed. He isn't yet able to walk, talk, go to the bathroom, or take care of himself in any way. And as a ten year old boy now, Webb is quite a handful. And yet, Will takes care of everything Webb needs without complaint, every day. We never asked him or expected him to do this. He just took it upon himself when Mandy was pregnant with John, and he saw how difficult it was for her to lift him. And although Mandy tried to take care of Webb's daily needs after she delivered John, Will wouldn't let her. And he's done it ever since. (In the picture of the children at the top of the page, you can see Will gently holding Webb's face toward the camera so he can be seen.)

For her part, ever since she has been studying nutrition, Sarah Grace has taken a sincere interest in the nutritional needs of the children. She has not only been cooking with Mandy everyday, but has taken it upon herself to make a batter to soak overnight, and then get up as early as 5:00am to be able to prepare a whole grain breakfast for the family.

And the older children, especially the Big Four (Will, Sarah Grace, Spencer, and James) are very attentive to the spiritual and physical needs of the Young Guns (Webb, John, George, and Richard), and the Young Guns adore them for it.

So much so, that after Will and Sarah Grace took a distance learning course from Patrick Henry College, and were considering going there, the Young Guns and the rest of the family were distraught at the idea of the family being split up.

Will and Sarah Grace agreed that their hearts weren't in it, and decided instead to continue their education from home. Will is getting his bachelors degree in business via distance learning courses, as well as an associates degree in construction and property management, while also apprenticing locally. This will not only give him a great foundation for a variety of employment opportunities, but most importantly, it will prepare him for the family business that is our hearts' desire.

Sarah Grace is enrolled in USC's Culinary Arts program, which, when combined with her nutritional studies, is preparing her to be a keeper at home. And her exposure to the culinary arts will also be beneficial to the family should the family have a restaurant or an inn, which frequently comes up as a possible extension of the family business.

We knew that home educating the children was the right thing to do. We knew that, contrary to what the world teaches, it was important to teach the children that Christians as a whole, and a Christian family in particular, are to be dependent on each other, and to deeply need and long for each other. And all of this has tied in beautifully with my desire to fulfill my role as the patriarch of the family, and to lead us into that kind of unfeigned intimacy.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday before "The Third Saturday in September" -- posted by Spencer

This morning Will and I helped unload the grain shipment that contained our wheat order. It was almost 12,000 lbs so we got our exercise for the day and we were able to finish before lunch.

We enjoyed Mrs. Kroske (our grain lady), Mr. Kroske, their children, and Rock - a family friend who was a real kick! Mrs. Kroske has been very helpful in educating Mom on whole grains.

Awhile back Mom and Sarah Grace switched our diet to freshly ground whole grains and raw foods. They've been learning to soak and sprout grains and have incorporated more fermented foods. They are eliminating refined and pasteurized food as they find the alternatives available. It has been a major lifestyle change.

Now that we know the Kroskes, we can avoid a lot of the trial and error of going it alone since they've been grinding their own wheat for years. Fortunately they are in our area and available to answer questions and supply grains.


I don't want Will and I to overdo the football entries; however, this is football season and that wouldn't be difficult to do. Here are a few comments on the classic SEC rivalry being played tomorrow in Gainesville between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators.

I think the game will have the makings for a good old-fashioned shootout with Ainge and Tebow throwing for more than six combined TDs. Ainge should play well against the talented but inexperienced Florida secondary and Tennessee needs to run the ball efficiently to stay in the game.

I think Tebow will have an excellent game both passing and running against a defense that has struggled.

WR Caldwell's injury will only marginally effect the Gators, especially in light of the torn ACL sustained by CB Antonio Gaines.

Keys to the Game:
Tennessee needs to run the ball and stop the big play.
Florida needs to play to their potential.

Urban Meyer should keep The Swamp undefeated with a score of 41-34.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's not personal. It's business. -- posted by John

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I look like Michael Corleone, don't I? Mom and Sarah Grace say that's not a bad thing.

I'm giving my best pensive look in this picture.

I've always wondered why I'm darker than the rest of my family. Maybe I'm Italian.

(This picture is more clear and looks better on my journal:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Magnetism -- posted by James

We've decided to share some of our homeschool activities on our website. Now, I know that won't be as exciting as Sarah Grace meeting Josh Groban, but I hope you will enjoy it. Today we did experiments with magnets.

George, who is in the back of the picture, has a pencil and two ring magnets. The experiment he did was to hold the pencil upright, drop a ring magnet through it, then drop another ring magnet on top but with same poles facing each other. The result is a floating magnet.

I'm next to George and I'm holding a smiley face we drew on a card. I know that doesn't sound scientific but hear me out. We slid the face in a Ziploc bag, cut off the excess, poured iron filings in the front, and then sealed the bag. Next, I used a bar magnet to pick up the filings to make a beard, moustache, sideburns, and hair on the smiley face. It works like a Magna Doodle.

Next to me is John who is holding the lodestone which is magnetic. We went around the house testing for true metals with the magnets. Iron, steel, and nickel stick to magnets but aluminum and non-metals do not.

In the foreground is Richard. He's holding a little bag of iron filings. He kept bringing us bowls of water to make more compasses.

On the table is a compass I built with a bar magnet, a bowl of water, and a plastic cup. We also magnetized pins for compasses and floating toys made with bottle caps and modeling clay.

In Magnesia, there is found a rock called magnetite. That is where we get the word magnet. It is similar to lodestone.

Dad is going to experiment and teach us about electromagnetics this weekend. Here is an interesting site called Magnet Man.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Meeting Josh Groban-- posted by Sarah Grace

For my 18th birthday in May, my family gave me tickets to see Josh Groban in concert at the Bobcat Arena in Charlotte, NC. And last night it happened.

First, Daddy and I went to Monticello Restaurant for supper. I ordered the Georgia peach roasted duck. It is hickory roasted duck served over spiced potatoes and carrots with a peach and brown sugar barbecue sauce. Yum! Daddy ordered the bourbon glazed pork tenderloin served with cheddar bacon grits, sautéed spinach, and fried sweet potatoes. It was so tender he retired his knife after the first bite. For dessert, I had the creme brulee like last time. Although I switched the entree from my favorite, shrimp and grits, I couldn't bring myself to try a different dessert... yet. I was eye-ballin' that chocolate-hazelnut torte, though. Maybe next time.

After supper we walked down to the Bobcat Arena, which is a beautiful and well-run facility. There was a long line outside of fans waiting to be seated, but as I followed my father I noticed we walked right past the line and went straight to the Will Call desk. He told the lady at the desk that he was expecting an envelope, and I thought it had something to do with verifying our tickets for the concert. As soon as he was done at the desk, I asked what was going on. His reply, "Let's go meet Josh Groban."

Once I regained consciousness, and used every molecule in my body to keep from crying and ruining my make-up, I asked him how he was able to obtain tickets for the Meet and Greet. He answered, in his absolute best Vito Corleone impersonation, "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse."

Fortunately, as we were in line to meet him, an excited lady behind us offered us breath mint strips which we gladly accepted. I think she was an angel sent by God.

Before I knew it, we were next in line to meet Josh. We introduced ourselves and, believe it or not, he introduced himself, as if we didn't know who he was! Since I knew he had been sick, I told him I was glad he was feeling better. I don't remember what Dad said as I was caught up in the moment, not to mention they were filming it, which added to the whirlwind atmosphere.

Typically, I'm not one to get star-struck, but God has so gifted this humble man, that I felt honored to make his acquaintance, look him in the eyes, and enjoy his fine manners. His personality onstage is affable and courteous. And he has a fantastic sense of humor.

The show was spectacular! The stage alone was a sight to behold. The band was is an oval area behind the stage. On an elevated platform behind the band was an orchestra section, where members of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra provided additional accompaniment. Behind the orchestra was an elliptical screen made up of individual vertical screens that displayed images to go with the songs. Behind the stage was a large wall of video screens as well. And to cap it all off, suspended over the stage were six light panels that were independently operated to be raised and lowered to enhance the effect, as may be seen in the pictures below.

It was an extraordinary evening and I am so grateful to my father for blessing me with my bestest birthday surprise! Thanks to a friendship he has with a business associate, who has connections, he was able to get us into the Meet and Greet.

In retrospect, I understand why Momma was acting like a giddy teeny-bopper while I was getting dressed to go. The boys said that once I left the house, she started crying and praising Jesus. And praising Jesus. And crying.

Thanks everybody, it was a fabulous birthday!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Will's Weekly Wrap-up

First, let me get it out of the way. Division 1-AA Appalachian State beat (5) Michigan, 34-32. At home. No, seriously.

These (hopefully) regular Weekly Wrap-ups will be focused on my take of the latest Gator game. I will most likely also mention other games concerning our beloved SEC.

Florida got the job done in the Swamp Saturday, but not without issues. The final score of 49-3 is a bit deceptive, as our defense had serious problems against a mediocre Western Kentucky team. This was to be expected, considering we had to replace 9 starters from last year's amazing D... but Urban had better work out the kinks if he wants a chance against the SEC powerhouses.

Offensively, it was a very different story. Tebow began his sophomore year with superb flair, throwing 3 TDs and rushing for another. His passing was efficient - 13/17 for 300 yds on the nose. The sheer volume of his various weapons on offense will be fun to watch throughout the season.

But what I was most impressed with, was Tebow's new attitude toward both the game and his new role as leader. No longer is he the back-up tank, who can clobber his way through any defensive lineman to gain a couple more yards. He knows that it is imperative that he stay healthy, and he showed this understanding by casually walking out of bounds at the end of his runs.

Plus, he stopped the skip-to-the-loo after his scores, which was a welcome change from last year. The new leader of the team showed emphatically that he will indeed lead this team to greatness.

Oh, by the way... Michigan lost to Appalachian State. At home. 34-32.

The marquee game of the week was fun to watch, but sadly (15) Tennessee wasn't able to pull out with a win. (12) Cal won 45-31, though the Vols played hard throughout. The loss can be attributed to daft 4th quarter play-calling, and simply the general strength of Cal's defense and running game.

In other games...

(2) LSU's defense was stellar in Thursday night's 45-0 decimation of Mississippi State. Clearly Coach Miles was holding back his cards on offense, in anticipation of next week's big game against (9) VA Tech.

(13) Georgia's offense looked strong in the 35-14 clobbering of Oklahoma State.

(18) Auburn had surprising difficulty with Kansas State early on, but pulled ahead late to come out with a 23-13 win.

Finally, Division 1-AA Appalachian State won the biggest upset in college football history, beating (5) Michigan 34-32 at Ann Arbor. This of course means Florida will become the fifth-ranked team of the nation in the next AP poll.

Obviously, our beloved Gators are overrated. But if Meyer and Co. can work out the many problems on defense in next week's game against Troy, we can still have a serious shot at beating Tennessee's above-average offense, and continue to aim at that SEC title.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

To the Mattresses-- posted by Daddy

I'm awfully proud of the job that Will and the kids have done getting our family
blog up and running. Today they said it was my turn to write a post. For
someone who has been working on the great American novel (in my head) for lo these
many years, you would think that sitting down at the keyboard and lettin' 'er rip
would be no problem. And that's where you would be wrong.

Well, so much for preamble.

As you can tell from the kids' posts, one of the best things to come along recently has been the innovation of taking some of the older kids with me on my business trips. It has completely taken away the biggest negative of business travel. In my new postion, I am travelling more than I was for my previous employer. I don't mind it, too much, particularly since it's productive travel, i.e. visiting customers and prospects. I like being on the road, seeing new companies, but have always loathed being away from my family. Now, I can take care of business, have some good quality time with a couple of the kids, the kids learn about how business is done and have an opportunity to have new experiences.

But while this is a vast improvement, it's still not what it should be, which is that our family have a business that we can all be part of, so we can be together all the time. That's what I want in the future. Not that I don't appreciate my job. As a matter of fact, as jobs go, I am enjoying it immensely. I have a great equipment finance company behind me, which is very aggressive in wanting to get deals done. They support me, but don't get in the way. And the compensation plan is such that I have the opportunity to work hard and get paid for my efforts, such that I can take care of current obligations and start laying the groundwork for a family business in the future.

Which brings me to a subject that I will write about frequently on this blog because it is what I think and pray about all the time. That is, the mandate that we as men in this country have to fulfill our roles within a Biblical patriarchy.

As this is the desire of my heart, I know that the Lord is perfecting this call in me.

And how, you may ask, do I go from talking about travelling with the kids on business and wanting a family business, to discussing Biblical patriarchy?

The quick answer is that, without question, a family business provides the best environment for Biblical patriarchy. Much of the problem with today's families is that we have so moved away from the family owned enterprise. With men mostly working for another company, the vast amount of time that a man has during the week is spent away from his family. This has been compounded by moms working outside the home, and multiplied by parents outsourcing their Biblical mandate to instruct their children to a government or privately run school system. More on all this later.

Let me be clear, there is nothing at all ignoble about a man earning a wage to provide for his family. But a family business is the model that God gives us to follow for caring for our family and raising our children.

Which brings me to last night, when the Big Four, Mandy, and I watched The Godfather on television. Once you get beneath the surface and realize that the movie is primarily about family (which may be why it has been so acclaimed over the years), you will understand when I say that the character of Vito Corleone can teach us much about what it is to be a patriarch.

Now before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, let me say that clearly he had shortcomings as a patriarch. There is the obvious fact that his wealth was based on criminal activities. He did not completely pass along his moral code to Sonny (whose adulterous behavior should not have been tolerated) or Fredo (who was unwilling to start a family of his own) or Michael (who...well, for the sake of the Big Four who haven't seen GII, I won't discuss it now.) Also, his patriarchy sometimes devolved into chauvinism which has no part of Biblical patriarchy.

But at the same time, he had many attibutes to be emulated. For him, taking care of and protecting his family meant everything, and was above all else. "After all," he says, "a man who doesn't spend time with his family is not a man."

He was portrayed as a kind, generous man, who lived by a strict moral code of loyalty to friends and, above all, family. He attempted to influence the New York crime world with these values, even when it was to his own disadvantage, as seen in his reluctance to get into narcotics.

Can you imagine Vito sending his wife into the workplace to help support the family, or let his daughter work to make her own way?

He mentored his sons in the family business, such that Sonny was able to assume leadership of the family when Vito was recovering from the assasination attempt. And the only reason he didn't involve Michael was that he wanted the family business to become legitimate first.

Maybe some of what is admirable in Vito Corleone is considered Old World. But it is this essense of patriarchy that needs to be preserved and developed by men everywhere, but certainly in this country. To this country's shame, men, for the most part, have abdicated their God given role. As a consequence, the family, and by extension, the country, has suffered.

Anyway, I'll write more about this later. Right now, before I get back to work, I think I'll listen to the song that really does. every. time.